NAPLES, Fla. – Body camera footage released by authorities showed a man screaming in pain and pleading for help just before a sheriff’s deputy shot a Malayan tiger that had grabbed the man’s arm at a Florida zoo.
The Collier County Sheriff's Office said the man was seriously injured Wednesday evening when he entered an unauthorized area near the tiger's enclosure at Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. The 8-year-old tiger named Eko later died.
The man worked for a third-party cleaning service contracted to clean restrooms and the gift shop, the sheriff's office and the zoo said. He was hospitalized and his condition was not available on Friday.
The body camera video released Thursday by the sheriff's office appeared to show the tiger’s jaw wrapped around the man’s arm between his hand and elbow .
“Please, please help me, please,” the man screamed during a nearly 9-minute call with a sheriff's office dispatcher. The dispatcher is heard mistaking the man's screams for a woman and calling him m'am during the call.
The man could be seen on video bracing his body against the enclosure with his leg in the air and his shoulder in the dirt.
A zoo statement said that after the facility had closed Wednesady to the public, 26-year-old River Rosenquist jumped a public barrier fence into an unauthorized area in front of the tiger habitat.
“It is believed that he was trying to feed or pet the tiger through the enclosure fence to the point where the tiger was able to reach him and pull his arm into the enclosure,” the statement said, adding a deputy rushed to the scene.
“After the deputy initially tried to get the tiger to release the arm, he was left with no option but to shoot the animal to save the young man’s life. The tiger was confirmed dead by Naples Zoo’s veterinarian,” the statement added.
According to the sheriff's office, the tiger had retreated back into its enclosure after being shot.
The Malayan tiger is one of the smallest tiger species found throughout the southern and central Malay Peninsula and southern parts of Thailand, according to Malaysian Wildlife. It is the national symbol of Malaysia.
In 2016, a Malayan tiger attacked and killed a zookeeper at the Palm Beach Zoo. An autopsy found that Stacey Konwiser, 38, died of a fractured spine, a lacerated jugular and other neck injuries suffered when she was attacked by a 12-year-old tiger named Hati.